Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh Yeah.

Yahaira made a good point - this is my only chance in four years to post on the 29th of February.




Oh, good news: the neighbor's dog seems to be back home. Saw him last night, tied up outside the apartment building. For like three hours. It was about 40 degrees. I am keeping an eye on this situation. I'd like to point out that I am going out of my way to be neither overly nice nor at all mean to this guy until I really have to make that call. Here, however, I can be as nasty and judgmental as I want. Isn't the internet wonderful? :-D

Here's big news: The Project? Done. (Well, mostly done. Tiny bit of finishing.) Hoooo. Rah. (There will be pictures and stuff. To read way too much information about the progress, you can follow that link to the Ravelry page. The last few days come across maybe a bit frustrated - but I'm fine now that it's done!)

And now I'm back to long-dormant Juno. (Link to the most inspiring finished object EVARRR.) I think I'm down with knitting adult garments that aren't socks or hats now. Woohoo!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Gonna Try...

Six posts for February?? That's pretty pathetic. Maybe I'll just start coming up with random stories.

Here's two.

Conversation between Travis and me last night after a commercial for the Smurfs DVD (Smurfs!!):

Travis: Gargamel. Heh.
Alyson: Ooh, there's a name for our boy!
Travis: .............. GARGAMEL JOHNSON.

The look and tone that accompanied his statement cracked me up. The name wasn't really funny until you said it in its entirety, stone-somber. (I should note, once again, that we're not pregnant, but I'm always on the lookout for clever boys' names. We have something picked out for a girl - and it's a doozy - but boys are harder. And I like to be prepared.)

Then there was ..... the new neighbor.

Okay, first of all, I should point out that I'm not normally a big fan of new neighbors. They almost always instantly irritate me in some way. (With the exception of people who moved in nearby a few months ago and rock the whole world.) This guy though - he's had people over helping him move, and he's been throwing the windows open and letting everyone holler and carry on well into the night on weekdays. I'm not a total prude, have your fun, but at midnight on Tuesday, dude, it's time to shut the eff up. Anyway...

Last night I see this GORGEOUS red Eskimo dog come running out the front door over there. The person with the dog hardly took notice. The dog ran into the yard, peed, then ran into the church yard next door, took a crap, and bolted. Okay, now if you're one with a proclivity to letting your dog wander around leashless, that's super, but he should probably be trained to handle it. I watched people run off after the dog, and about an hour later I saw the dog bolt through our yard. (I'd figured he'd been caught long since, so I was a little stunned.) I went outside and tried to call him to the house - despite the fact that he's proven himself at this point to likely be a little on the wild side - but to no avail. Eventually, the guy comes plodding out of the house, slowly makes his way across the street, and calls for the dog:


Demon? Effing DEMON? You have a dog named DEMON and you don't own a leash? Damned Demon ran all over the neighborhood all night long, crapping and peeing on everything he could find (thanks, dude, my dogs are going to be apeshit for a month) and completely ignoring his owner's yells. (By the way, the owner? Yeah, not the shiniest looking apple.) There's a park across the street where women and children were playing tennis, and the dog went over there and terorrized them for a while, then ran off down the street, nearly getting hit by a minivan in the process, while Neighbor did what could only be described as saunter down the sidewalk loudly yelling obscenities at the dog. (Again, please note: women and children.)

All the while I'm on my knees praying to the heavens above that this beautiful dog doesn't get hit by a car. And I might have prayed that a nice family with the capacity for love and discipline would stop and pick him up.

Did I mention that this whole time, Neigbor is wandering around in everyone's yards? Yeah, hi, nice to meet you, welcome to the neighborhood, would you like a muffin? Please get out of my backyard, since I just yelled that he's across the street again. My shed should be of no interest to you. The proper way to proceed in this situation, for future reference, is to knock on someone's door, introduce yourself, and say that you don't want them to be alarmed if they see you wandering around in their yard but your dog is loose. This will keep you from getting shot for trespassing (remember, this is Florida, so all these people are from Jersey), and it will keep the legal owner of the home from tearing you limb from limb in the aftermath of what ensues from letting their own six-pound pup out to pee, not realizing that your ill-behaved dog named DEMON is roaming their backyard.

I reserve the right to be proved wrong - but I don't think I'm gonna like the new neighbor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Off My Game, and Sale News

Something feels ... off. Do you ever have that feeling? It alternates between jitters and nerves, lying awake at night worried about.....something? (Something I said? Something I'm going to say? Something I did? Didn't do?) Strange aches and pains and itchy nagging coughs and that odd lump in my lower back - coupled with too many years studying forensic pathology and investigating medical claims? Constant self-diagnosis. (Fibromyalgia? Restless leg? PTSD? Have I even been traumatized ever, let alone lately?)

Weird. I'm fine, really, I'm Maybe that explains the total lack of blogging ability lately? Where's my ... sparkle? :-)

I'm still knitting, though. Not spinning...after the last blast of spinning and yarn-creating, the shop languishes with too much stock (or so I think), so I haven't been very motivated, despite the acquisition of Lexi's book Intertwined. That book is going to have a big motivating effect on me once I come up with a good excuse for spinning again.

Good excuse would be less stuff in the shop, so I'm having a sale right now. Lower prices on everything. Help yourself, if you feel so inclined. :-)

The Oscars? I was stoked. It's a big night for me, since I'm such a fan of (good) movies, and I was really happy about the winners, if not the fashion. (Oh look, another black dress. Yawwwwn. Black and red - what is this, the Modscars? Also, was Cameron Diaz at the gym and realized she was supposed to be at the Oscars like five minutes ago? A ponytail and a shower curtain? Really?) Oh, and I can't help but be a little peeved on two tribute points - one, way to cut Heath Ledger off at the knees there at the end. (Oh yeah, this guy died too. We're not sure if it's still too fresh or if everyone's tired of thinking about it, so we'll just flash this one quick picture and cut to commercial.) Two, ever hear of Brad Renfro? You know, that other young actor cut down before his time - no matter how self-destructive, all talent deserves recognition.

For the record, of the 23 categories, I was correct in 18 of my picks. Not bad - I've had better years, but considering how wide-open the races were (and my perhaps against-the-grain picks that turned out right) I'm pleased. I had a sushi lunch on the thing, and I won, so that was a lovely little boost - I do love my volcano rolls.

We watched a record number of movies and DVDs in the last week in the final run-up to the big show - Juno, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, Away from Her, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ... It's that last one that had me flummoxed. If you're in 80% of a movie's scenes, you're pretty much the head guy, right? Casey Affleck, while flattered by all the attention, must have been kind of surprised to find out he wasn't the lead in that movie. ("But see Casey, you're The Other Affleck Guy, and he's Brad Pitt. So he's the lead. Right? Okay, action.")

I've decided I'm a fan of This Affleck as the director and That Affleck as the actor. Let's stick with that dynamic.

I was thinking today - I can't believe how little I've done in the way of acquisitions this year. Very, very, very little yarn or fiber has made its way into my home, unless it was part of a pre-existing agreement or custom need. (Sock club or special order, that kind of thing.) I'm sort of proud of myself, and yet I sort of feel like a poser. Enabling and acquiring at bizarre rates of speed, these are kind of my niches, you know? I haven't felt the pull of many things this year, really. But - how badly do I want the Hello Kitty sock kit from Woolgirl? Really badly, that's how badly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sales & Sadism

Hey, Michelle at The Sweet Sheep is having a big ol' clear-out-my-inventory-please sale, so check that out. A very large portion of her shop is even cheaper than usual. That's always a good thing.

Speaking of good things cheaper than usual:

We got up before the sun!

Yep, Kathleen's pretty cheap. (No!! I kid!) This is me and K looking awfully chipper considering we got up at the ass-crack of dawn. What's the one thing that could get a knitter out of bed at 6:00 on a Saturday, with a smile on her face?


The first ten people in line at the LYS got a CRAZY discount, so we made sure to get there early. K was actually the first person there, and fielded increasingly frantic text messages from me en route (and, in an extra show of support, read them aloud to all the other people in line. I do love her. My arrival was even met with a smattering of applause. Wiseacres.) The doors opened and we went nuts, but quite calmly - knitters politely stepping aside for other knitters, handing each other stuff - it was all very civilized and classy.

We were there until about 3:00. I was done shopping at about 9:30. But it was just such a nice day to sit and knit and watch people scurry around, piling yarn in corners like so many squirrels, making ooh and ahh noises over each other's scores, and asking whether they thought this yarn would work at this gauge for this sweater...

My haul?

The score

Not bad, eh? I was very well-restrained, and I made up for the money I spent by purchasing a ton of sportweight Louet and Koigu KPM. Note that they're all undyed. Wonder what that means? (The reason I will dye very rarely is because this is the only way I'll be getting base yarns - I want good solid base yarns that people will enjoy working with, and I don't want to have to buy $500 worth of the stuff at a time, so I just wait for the sales and stock up for a small round of dyeing. I think Doni's used to it.)

There was also a 15-skein slip-up that will hopefully result in a sweater:


I'm gonna love me some of this sweater. The yarn is Mirasol Sulka and it is DELICIOUS.

What was the benefit to the early-morning arrival?

Why so much stuff with all the budget talk?

Off everyfreakin yarn in the store. And there may have been an additional small math error in my favor. (Which was let slide on consideration of my, um, past and probable future performance in the store.)

We had a blast, and then I got home and started trying to get my stuff in order ... the Great Craft Room Explosion of 2008 carries on. Here's some fun shots for you - keep in mind that things have progressed somewhat since this point.

So I have my shelves set up (thank you sweetie!) and I started stocking:

The new shelf

Looks great so far, huh? (That whole top row of yarns? Yeah, that's all sock yarn. I know, I KNOW!! Don't you judge me!)

Things start to get harder to take as you rotate clockwise around the room. The cedar cubbies Travis built me have shifted to the right:

The old cubbies and bookcase

These will house random skeins of yarn, projects in progress, books, dyestuffs, whatever else... and the old bookshelf will now house actual real books, the kinds that have more words than pictures.

Then...okay, brace yourself. This IS a work in progress. No more words from me, just pictures:

The chair corner

The new desk

And all the rest of it.

It'll get there. I promise. All the photos make me accountable. (Thanks for your help.) The biggest mess of it is going to be the paperwork - all the bills and house paperwork and every other bit of paper I've kept for the past three years - there have been four moves in that time, too, so stuff has tended to just get shoved in a box and I've not been as organized as I would have liked. Getting all that squared away is going to take the longest, but paper is easily stashed in the closet and dealt with over time.

Oh, and did I show you my new favourite perfect-for-me t-shirt that Jessi got me from Threadless for Christmas?

Let's crop this for my own sake

Yep, that's me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Food. I Like It.

Well, Valentine's Day was kind of a bust. By the time the outlets were done and the cleaning up was out of the way, it was pushing 10:00, so we kind of ended up not doing that whole dinner-and-DVD thing. Whatever, I have a fully functioning office/craft room now, with working grounded outlets and everything!

And I had really good company while the men worked:

It's okay, I'm not comfortable without them

(Stock photo, but this is about right. None of them wanted to leave me alone on V-Day. Indiana even stuck her head downstairs and meowed at me.)

My main reason for posting is to share a few recipes. I'm always talking about the cooking I've been doing lately, and there's a few in particular that I think are worth you giving a shot, so I'm sharing the recipe links. The black bean tortilla pie that I mentioned the other day is worth almost any sacrifice. (Psst...the recipe calls for beer or water - if you're okay with it, go for the beer. It totally makes the whole thing.)

I like to serve a simple thrown-together sour cream concoction with the tortilla pie, or any spicy mexican/tex-mex/southwestern dish, or with chips, or with a spoon. (I love sour cream maybe a little too much.) Mix together about 8 ounces of sour cream, the juice from half a lime, a few finely chopped green onions, and a few pinches of salt. You can add some finely diced jalapeno too, if you want a little heat. I tend to buy two containers of sour cream, and I leave one plain and mix the other one up this way so I have it on hand. (Seriously, SO good with potato chips. I went through a lot of this during the Super Bowl.)

I also want to point you to this Emeril recipe for the beer cheddar soup I mentioned yesterday. (Not all my food contains booze, it just worked out that way in this post.) I'm normally not an Emeril fan - I don't follow the dogma that in order to be good, food must be drowned in rich sauce, fried, covered in salt, and topped with more rich sauce. But this soup is delicious. The recipe also mentions fried broccoli - I don't bother with that, obviously. 'Cuz I kind of figured all the cheese and whole milk was enough without adding fried greenery.

On the knitting front (there IS knitting): The Project carries on, by the way - I keep a very detailed progress report going on Ravelry, if you're interested in reading how things are coming along.

I'm proud to be a federal employee today - I'm looking forward to my three-day-weekend! (For.....what is it? Some holiday....something about presidents, maybe? Whatever.)

Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Boys I Love

I've always been a little boy crazy:

My boys

Even if we don't go out of our way to celebrate it, it's as good a day as any to show 'em off and mention how much I love them. Especially that big one in the pink there.

I plan no chocolate or roses today; just some new electrical outlets, some reheated beer cheddar soup, and some quality couch-and-DVD time with the hubby. A perfect romantic evening, in my book! :-)

Hope everyone enjoys a lovely Valentine's Day / Thursday!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Go Herbie!!!

Okay, so I don't really give a hoot one way or the other, but I'm just glad of all the nominees, Herbie Freakin' Hancock won the Grammy for Best Album. Why am I thrilled? Because it proves how ridiculous and out of touch the Grammys are. Mind you, I myself am ridiculous and out of touch, so at least we have that in common - but anywhere that Kanye West gets applause and not jeers for being a total douche, that's not a place I want to pay tribute.

Seriously, WHY is that man such a huge wad? That's the perfect argument for what my mother calls an abundance of positive feedback. Her entire argument against kids today is, "Who told these kids they're so damned special!? I never told you you were special!" Well, of course she did, but what she meant was that I was never told I was infinitely more special than all other living breathing creatures on the planet. Which is apparently the proper way to raise children now. I'm going to make sure my kids don't go around thinking they're better than everyone else. Just because their mother is, that doesn't mean they are. (Ha! I kid! Or do I...? Probably depends on who you ask.)

We went to Ikea for the first time this weekend. And then for the second time. Yeah, it's pretty much heaven on a concrete slab. I got a full-blown wood (not particle board) desk for $138. Thank you, Scratch & Dent department! And it was already put together! Sure, there was a nick in the wood at the back of the top of the desk, but by the time we'd ripped the leg off getting it upstairs, hell, you wouldn't even notice that scratch! Heh. (We fixed it.)

Yesterday, except for our second Ikea adventure, I was in the kitchen solid the whole day. Sauteed zucchini and summer squash, baked acorn squash with pecans and blue cheese, roasted asparagus, roasted brussels sprouts, black bean tortilla pie, potato and mushroom gratin, moonblush roasted tomatoes, pan-fried capers, fried calamari, sauteed calamari in wine and lemon, a few dipping sauces, and...yeah, I think that's all. Oh, and threw some ribs and chicken into a two-day marinade, going to roast those up tonight for Travis. So yes, there will be no, "Do we have anything to eat?" cries in my home. And just as I reached the home stretch, I somehow managed to get the mother of all jalapenos to spit fiery evil venom into my right eye and both nostrils.

Have you ever felt like you were bleeding from every orifice in your whole head?

I've never been in such acute and sudden and unceasing pain in my LIFE. I've been in pain, but not sheer excruciating will-this-ever-end pain for 20 straight minutes. Travis didn't react right away to the severity, either, and seemed to have an almost eye-rolling get-over-itness to the situation. (From a man who weeps at the mere glimpse of a white onion.) Turns out he just didn't grasp the level of franticness I was exhibiting right away. Since the inception of All Day Cooking Sundays, he's used to the sight of me dabbing at my eyes after a whole day of chopping onions, so he didn't really notice the difference - and he spent the rest of the night apologizing. The final stage of my complete toxic-seed-and-rib-induced breakdown had me standing in the shower, having managed to not even partially undress before just leaping in and sputtering under a spray of freezing cold water which I was trying desperately to force into my nasal and ocular cavities. The thought of just prying my own eye out did briefly occur to me.) This has happened to me before, but never to such effect. I mean, it's a damned jalapeno, not a scotch bonnet. Since when do jalapenos = pure death of vision? It was clearly the Devil's Pepper.

I'm convinced it was because I wasn't nice enough to the Jehovah's Witnesses who dropped by right when I started sauteeing garlic. (DON'T LET THE GARLIC TURN BROWN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHATEVER YOU DO, said the recipe. I might have been a bit, uh, brisk with the unexpected visitors.)

And for those of you who feared for the safety of my jalapeno-laden creation - I returned and managed to finish chopping and the tortilla pie came out fine, with jalapenos intact. Though I didn't quite get around to cutting up that second jalapeno for the sour cream. My epicurean sacrifice only extends so far.

With that, I sign off. No pictures, no knitting, no spinning, nothing. What the hell is that about? (I promise something knitting related someday....)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


You won't be seeing this again any time soon.


Not that you've seen it any time in the last, oh, say, two years. Which is why I finally sold my bike. We listed it on eBay THREE TIMES, dropping the reserve a bit more each time (and then trying to make a deal with the people who won but didn't reach the reserve, only suddenly they didn't want to buy it anymore). So now it's finally gone (or at least the auction has ended and pickup has been arranged.) I should have sold the thing like, oh, two years ago. Because what did I pick up right after the bike?

You guessed it.

What's This One For?

Knitting. Specifically, sock knitting. And with that, my passion for motocross died. And my poor Travis' hope of having a daredevil woman died as well. However, I'm fairly certain he's secretly glad, as I was at least as likely to be found under the bike as on it, and he spent a lot of time squeezing my extremities and saying, "Does this hurt? How about this, does it feel tender here?" And I'm fairly certain my appearance at work wasn't especially professional with great bruises and road rash on my face and arms.

See, I didn't halfass anything. Gonna ride, might as well ride. And don't waste time steering. My days on the bike would go something like this: Full throttle straight ahead, until running into a fence or tree. Fall over. Get picked up by Travis and turned ninety degrees. Repeat into side of shed. Repeat into fence on other side of property line. Repeat into dog kennel. And so on. Thankfully he loved me enough to not point me directly at the lake behind his house, or God knows the bike and I both would have drowned there in the reeds. I did eventually pick up steering, but all four of my limbs were not usually willing to work closely together, so there was a lot of turning-and-falling-over or turning-and-choking-the-clutch or turning-and-screaming-for-help. It's probably for the best that I took up knitting. Not that I haven't done damage to myself with pointy sticks, but the pointy sticks move much more slowly than the 120 cc engine. (I should note that most of the major running into stuff was done on his bike. By the time I'd gotten my own bike, I had gotten steering down pretty pat but was starting to gain interest in socks.)

Look what else I found while I was fishing around for these pictures:

Nameless Baby

Baby Brodie!! These were the first photos we ever saw of him. (And my first hint that this was NOT going to be a six-pound MinPin like Bitty is.)

Did I mention the shop update this past Sunday? (I know, I'm completely shameless. I'm also in need of funds to continue to pay stupid vet bills. Damned corneal hernia.) I'd like all that stuff bought so it's not sitting on my dining room table. I can hear them talking. They're planning to knit themselves into a blanket. Help!

I picked a favourite:


Yep, the orange one. Well, duh.

Super Tuesday folks, hope you're getting out and voting. Don't care who for - just vote!

Happy knitting!